published: NOVEMBER 2022
Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Start To Shoot Film
Film has soul
Why shoot film? I prefer film because it speaks to me in the way I see the world. I don't want my images to be perfect or razor-sharp; I like the photos to have a soul. Digital cannot give that without applying filers or plugins. Besides, it's just different from the real thing. It's about more than how the clients see your images. Would they know if you shot on film? It's a state of mind and a feeling that is hard to pinpoint.
35mm film can be gritty and imperfect. Which is perfect.
Sharpen the saw. With digital, it's easy to start letting your skillset get lazy. With film, your skillset has to improve to get great compositions.
I love film grain. Digital plugins in Lightroom have come a similar way, but they cannot duplicate the film look.
35mm or 120 roll film forces you to slow down and concentrate before tripping the shutter. Our modern world is crazy fast. Technology has enabled our lives to expect things with almost immediate gratification. Amazon deliveries, phone pictures. Using film provides a little balance in my productivity. For example, about ten years ago, I would work crazy hours for my clients. Well, that's very noble of you, you might think. No. It's not. I was spending less time with my family. I would sit in my studio at crazy hours trying to meet deadlines. I had a choice as a photographer. That night, a violent storm passed through San Antonio, Texas, and lightning hit our house and caught fire. We escaped with our toddlers under our arms and moved out as repairs were made. During that six-month hiatus from our home, I made changes to my life and found balance. Not as extreme, but shooting film is like that. You can breathe. Recalibrate. Think. Focus. It's an artistic decision.
to chimp or not too chimp
There's no 'chimping' on the back of the camera - I'm not losing my concentration checking my camera. In fact, these days, when shooting with my digital rangefinders, I turn off the LCD so I'm not tempted.
film is still cheaper than film
In the long run, the film is cheaper to use than digital. If think about the cost today per roll - $10-$14 and then develop and scan $25-$30 per roll. A film camera on Ebay is $250-$1000. You shoot less but get much better images because you're slowing down and hesitant to waste. With digital, you shoot and burn, and digital cameras have to be updated every few years. A film camera doesn't need updating.
less is more
The art of less is more. I was a kid who grew up shooting film. In my newspaper days, I shot film. Digital compact cameras came along. Before I knew it, those images suddenly went from a 36-exposure roll to hundreds of pictures on one card. Most of those images were crap.
I thought the expensive digital cameras would pay for themselves since I wasn't paying for film. But with the improvements in digital technology, I would purchase new cameras almost every year. With film, you only need one or two cameras. And they last as the technology doesn't get old. It's timeless.
The digital camera you purchased even ten years ago is probably worthless. Oh! And no sensors to clean - No need to spray canned air in a film camera as there's no sensor!
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up skill set
Film takes more skill to get correct than digital. When nailing the exposure, things are lovely. In general, err on exposing for the shadows. With digital cameras, expose for the highlights.
study the masters
With film, there's only a way of checking once you can get the film back from the lab. You're forced to wait for the lab to send the results, a delayed form of gratification. So, what do you do? I suggest studying the master's of art via Canon of Design. There are excellent resources out there, and this is my favorite. Study, practice, study, and practice. A vast topic and one all artists and photographers should learn about. It's a fun and eye-opening journey I discovered ten years ago.
leica m3 + 50mm SUMMICRON
A CHOICE OF
locations; japanese sunken gardens, san antonio, texas
"You have to forget yourself. You have to be yourself and you have to forget yourself so that the image comes much stronger — what you want by getting involved completely in what you are doing and not thinking. Ideas are very dangerous. You must think all the time, but when you photograph, you aren't trying to push a point or prove something. You don't prove anything. It comes by itself."
Why listen to what I think? Read what the master of street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson thought about photography
Film I love
- Kodak Portra 400 35mm or roll
- Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm or roll.
- Shooting Kodak Portra 400 is just gorgeous. Kodak Tri-X 400, when pushed a couple of stops at 1600, is like nothing else I've ever shot with
- I get my film from B&H
But shooting with a roll of film in your camera can make you a better photographer or challenge you in ways you hadn't thought of yet. It's a way of life. I must admit, I love the nostalgia of shooting with a couple of rolls in my pocket.
Whether using film or digital, all are allowed. Film images can look hauntingly beautiful from the digital camera trying to cope with filter packs but can't replicate. And that's what I'm looking for. Even if the viewer may not tell from the images, the philosophy behind shooing film is enough for me. But I'm also very aware of its limitation in available light, how a film looks fantastic in natural daylight.
I use a couple of digital Leica M10s and a film M6 and M3. The cameras are built like tanks, and the optics are superb, even at the widest apertures. The shower shutter speeds handheld that I couldn't hold with a digital light meter. Oh, and did I mention my lack of back pain from carting all this gear in a tiny camera bag?
Finally, shooting on film will not make you a better photographer. A great photograph is a great photograph, irrespective of the format. Enjoy the ride!
Shooting film seems to be the in thing these days. I'm of the last generation to use film before the digital revolution. I grew up shooting film, working at a local newspaper, spending time in the lab, dunking film, and printing images. Shooting on film concentrates the mind as there are only 36 or 10 exposures on a 6x7 film roll. Plus, it looks better than digital unless you try replicating the film. If you've read this far, why not just shoot on it? Film is, after all, just another form of artistic expression.
If you're starting out, your initial costs can be lower with a half-decent film camera. Film is not dead. In fact, Kodak is expanding its film division after years of decline. 35mm film sells out quickly on sites like B&H, so the trick is to sign up for their emails, and when it's back in stock, they will kindly notify you. In the last few years, the resurgence of film and cameras has doubled in price. On eBay, the M6 goes from $3000, almost double the price ten years ago.
Many photographers, of course, only shoot film. There are also film directors' like Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Christopher Nolan, among many others. Film has charisma and extraordinary beauty that digital can replicate up to a point.
Table of contents
- Post Production Workflow
- Photo Mechanic Settings
- Wedding Photography Workshops 2023
- Lightroom Catalog Settings
- Personal inspiration: Henri Cartier-Bresson
- How to become a successful wedding photographer
- My camera bag
- Internship Opportunity
- San Antonio – PUG a meeting for Professional Photographers
- 100 Leica M + M9 weddings by Leica Photographer Philip Thomas
- The Fibonacci Circle | The Golden Ratio
- Do wedding photographers deserve our respect?
- How to start shooting weddings
- 26 Quotes by Henri Cartier-Bresson
- What is wedding photojournalism?
- Why the Leica M Rangefinder is so special